ProjectsCommunity Based – Summit Country Day School Mosaics (2004)

The Dream Building Mosaics were designed to be artful donor recognition panels, and were created by hundreds of students aged 9 – 13 over Jan’s seven months of residency at the school. A core group of eighth grade students helped daily with materials preparation, quality control of tile production, and glazing. The workshops were managed on the Renaissance model of each participant fulfilling tasks appropriate to their skill level.

  • The Panels In the Chapel Narthex

  • The Dream Building “Cathedral” – Inspired by the French Gothic style of The Summit’s chapel, created by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Students learned about basic geometric forms and naturalistic details, and the façade of Notre Dame de Paris provided details for the portal, rose window, gargoyles and niche statues.

  • “The Spirit of Generosity” - The creative images of Abbesse Hildegard von Bingen introduced spiritual symbolism through the personage of a spirit that embodies the community’s response to the school’s need for facility expansion. With a body covered by flowing water, sunflowers with children’s faces that turn towards the light, and a sparkle of light under her chin, the Spirit’s palms bear two more symbols: a watchful eye that perceives every need and a pure heart that responds with compassion.

  • With all tiles fired and glazed, the plywood forms are ready for covering. The slots in the back allow for the segments of the forms to be hung on French cleats that are going to be attached to the wall.

  • Christy Williams (workshop assistant) and her friend atach tiles to the top segment of the Cathedral. The artworks are segmented to allow for removal from the wall, if necessary.

  • Five different types of high-fire clay were used to imitate stone finishes, and pigmented slip provided matte colors. Students created beautifully bordered 2” square tiles that would be eventually the mounting platform for name plates that recognize generous donors to the school’s development program.

  • Three dimensional hands are attached to the head segment of the Spirit of Generosity by gluing the wrist cylinder to wooden pegs.

  • All tile elements are assembled on the drawing before attaching them to the plywood form.

  • The Spirit of Generosity with her arms attached. These 3 dimensional sculptures were the most difficult to attach to the otherwise flat plywood forms.

  • Students of Paula Yarnell pose with the Cathedral just prior to installation in the Narthex.

  • The function of the mosaic panels is to allow for display of donor names, so each student understood that, as the fundraising campaign continued and more people supported the development plans of the school, tile centers would eventually be covered. Each tile has a nicely designed border because of this use. While it was difficult to see the beautiful center design covered, the students had a chance to be selfless and generous in this understanding.

  • The corps of 8th grader “Quality Controllers” who helped in the workshop every afternoon pose with the finished “Spirit of Generosity” and Summit Country Day School administrators.

  • The top of 3 segments of the Spirit figure features high relief carving for the face which was polychromed with acrylic paint for subtle skin tones. The eyes (watchful awareness) are also relief carved, as are the hearts and faces that resemble cookies! The hands are 3D sculptures that are mounted on wooden pegs. All of the smaller tiles were made in workshops and glazed with highfire colors. The tiles were all attached to a buttered ground of 100% silicone which created a lighter ensemble than if grout had been applied to the final stage.

  • The students used an assortment of stamping tools ranging from ornamental buttons to screws, nails and costume jewelry. The 2” square tiles were achieved in 20 minute contact sessions with hundreds of students over 3 months, while the larger nosed tiles were created in longer sessions with breakout groups of interested students that committed to greater skill building.

  • The center tile was designed and modeled by Jan while the border tiles were created by the 8th grade students who came every day after school to clean the day’s work and prep it for firing. Their “quality control” effort was key in the creation of a professionally executed look to the final work.

  • Jan would model prototypes of elements that needed to be created in multiples as a teaching tool. These smaller faces were centers to sunflower forms that adorned the lower segment of the Spirit. This more challenging clay work was saved for the end of the workshop when selected students came to the workshop for 40 minute sessions during which they learned more about sculpting, joining and finishing forms.

  • The waves at the bottom of the Spirit of Generosity have glass inlays that melded into the slip painted tiles that were high relief and hollowed out to minimize their final weight.

  • The sunflowers with children’s faces, the water waves and the golden sash of the Spirit of Generosity were each modelled out of different highfire stoneware clays. The effect of the melted glass inlays can be seen. Pebbles and small tiles filled in the recesses between joints.

  • The eleven jambe statues - modelled by SCDS art teacher Jan Wiesner and Jan Brown Checco - include students with different props in their hands as attributes of subjects studied at Summit Country Day School. Sister Julie, the founder of the school, is also included as the central figure. She stands on the Dwarf of Ignorance. On the roof below the jambes are gargoyle faces created by the students.

  • Detail of the Jambe Statue figures and their niches, all high relief carving.

  • Carved and slip painted by studio assistant Christy Williams, this window was designed by a 4th grade student.

  • The finished effect of satin brushed metal nameplates mounted on tiles. The portal and windows are based on designs created by Jan Wiesner’s fourth grade students, and the dreambuilding logo was carved and slip painted by Christy Williams.

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